Monday, May 16, 2016

Russell M. Nelson on the power to learn, and spiritual application

President Russell M. Nelson (b. Sept 9, 1924) was an internationally-renowned heart surgeon when he was called to serve as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1984. He was set apart as president of the Quorum of Twelve on July 15, 2015.
"Consider the power to learn. How essential it is for progress, whether one's career is professional or that of a salesman, a farmer, or a homemaker.
"But learning can be misused! A sharp mind, misdirected, can cut into that line of spiritual power. Some 'learned' souls delight in leading others astray, all in the so-called name of learning. Years later their victims may realize that they have climbed their ladder of learning, only to find it leaning against the wrong wall. A prophet of the Lord has counseled us on this point:
"'O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.
"'But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.' (2 Ne. 9:28-29; italics added.)
"What happens without spiritual learning? What happens to the pilot of a glider when he is cut loose from the power of his tow plane? There may be banks and turns, but ultimately there is only one direction he can go, and that is down!
"We must gain learning, but we must apply it wisely. Otherwise, we have politics without principle, industry without morality, knowledge without wisdom, science without humanity!"
- Russell M. Nelson, "Protect the Spiritual Power Line," Ensign, November 1984, pp. 30-32
Click here to read the full talk

"The power to learn"—what a profound gift, one that is very much taken for granted! As President Nelson describes, it is "essential for progress" professionally.

But it also applies in other areas, and often those areas provide challenges. "Sharp minds" have the potential for doing much good, but also present the risk of being "misdirecting" in ways that can erode spiritual power. Hence the very large and important "if" in the quoted counsel: learning is good IF we continue to hearken to God's counsel:

I really enjoyed President Nelson's summary of some of the risks of learning without proper spiritual application:
  • politics without principle
  • industry without morality
  • knowledge without wisdom
  • science without humanity
We could easily point to examples of each of those in our day!

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